Builders Are Daring to Construct Sleek Abodes by Lauren Aitken
The Hamptons may still have a lot of old-money denizens with antique cottages, but the new tycoons (think young, rich, well-traveled) prefer modern trophy homes. We don’t mean the modest flat-roofed midcentury abodes that have mostly gone the way of the wrecking ball. We’re talking about gleaming glass palaces. With homeowners attracted to our area’s farm fields and coastal views, structures with vast transparencies that open to the landscape are all the rage. While most modern Hamptons’ houses are bespoke – designed by an architect and built to an individual homeowner’s needs – more and more builders are steering away from tried and true traditional and daring to offer modern designs.
Joan Limongello of Sagaponack Builders has eased her way from building transitional dwellings, which she describes as “traditional with an edgy twist,” to modern. For such homes it comes down to materials. Exteriors are clad in metal and exotic woods rather than shingles. Blue stone patios have given way to the cleaner grout-free look of poured concrete. Instead of marble, she sources from the “whole world of new stones.” Bathroom fixtures are sleek, cabinets are plain, moldings minimal, and floors light: “not white, but grey-tannish.” She is currently constructing a “modern masterpiece” in Bridgehampton designed by architect Blaze Makoid sporting dramatic ocean views.
Another builder who has embraced modernism is Jay Bialsky. “There’s too much of the same looking houses,” he says, adding that some buyers are ready to “step out of the box.” Modern houses, goes the conventional wisdom, work well on waterfront where they don’t vie with the neighbors. Or on farm fields. Bialsky is erecting three “ultramodern” specimens in Sagaponack on two-acre lots bordering agricultural reserves. He feels that the wood and stone structures, not only “complement each other,” but also fit well in the neighborhood. “My typical client wants something different, something that’s great architecture that will pass the test of time.”
Modern houses are so popular that when builder Kevin Hummel, a partner in John Hummel and Associates, built a home in East Hampton for his family he decided to sell it after living in it only five months. He had been planning to sell the Oyster Shores dwelling “in a few years,” according to listing broker, Janet Hummel of Town and Country, but the demand for modern new construction was so high that he put it on the market in September. After two weeks on the market, “we had fully executed contracts,” says Janet. The asking was $2,350,000.
And what’s a modern house without a flat roof? For Tim Davis’s oceanfront listing at 1400 Meadow Lane, it made sense to show prospective owners what could be done by creating a modern house set on the footprint of the existing home to fully realize the property’s ocean, dune and bay views. Local architect, William (Bill) Sclight, worked with the current zoning restrictions to create a design, which will be able to be implemented by new owners. “Rooftop terraces and even gardens have become one of the newest modern features given the flat roof design which lends to all kinds of creative use,” says Davis. “You also have an ability to have more open (less formal) interior living spaces.”
Sustainability is a huge factor in Hamptons modern. Marc Clejan, of GreenLogic Energy with offices in Roslyn, Cutchogue, Manorville, and Southampton, has built an East Hampton house that not only is an elegant testament to Modernism, with its floating sculptured staircase and flowing indoor/outdoor spaces, but is also engineered at net zero. In other words, it produces as much energy as it consumes.
Al Fresco Living
Modern also lends itself to the al fresco lifestyle that Hamptonites have embraced (well, in summer, anyway). The folks at Plum Builders have melded the rustic charm and huge proportions of barns to create their brand of “Modern Barns” with retractable glass walls (double the transparencies of a traditional house) leading to stunning outdoor living spaces. Plum CEO Al Giaquinto, puts what he calls “summer kitchens,” in all his outdoor spaces. And his indoor kitchens are bigger than most at 20 by 20 feet. “We’re an Italian family. We like big kitchens.”
LABhaus, a Berlin-based builder specializing in the luxurious “progressive modern space,” has just crafted an impressive house on Scuttlehole Road. The company’s claim to fame is that it finishes its projects “with materials and hardware typically available only in the highest-end custom homes” such as Toto faucets, bespoke mosaics, barrier-free showers, stainless steel doors handcrafted in Germany, and custom fabricated operable glass walls. The 3.2-acre Bridgehampton property, listed by Lylla Carter, Krae Van Sickle and Christopher Covert of Saunders, boasts sunlit gallery halls, a sculptural staircase, and west-facing retractable glass walls.